33 Insane Events These 100-Year-Old Best Friends Lived Through Together

by John Haltiwanger

Making it to 100 is a big deal. Making it to 100 at the same time as people you've been friends with your whole life is absolutely incredible.

Ruth Chatman Hammett, Gladys Ware Butler and Bernice Grimes Underwood have been the very best of pals for nearly a century.

On Saturday, they celebrated the milestone of being alive for 100 years at Zion Baptist Church, a church in Washington DC they've attended since childhood. All of them were born in June or July in 1916, The Washington Post reports. They were hoping for another friend, Leona Barnes (pictured above all the way to the left), to also attend the celebration at the church, but sadly she died in May.

The lives of these women are a testament to the power of friendship.

Beyond the inspiring nature of their relationship, it's pretty incredible to stop and think what these women lived through.

Correspondingly, one of the congregants at the church happened to be a makeup artist for Oprah Winfrey, and convinced Oprah to film a short video for the three friends.

In the video, Winfrey stated,

The things you must have seen over the last century. I don't know what to say.

Indeed, it's baffling to think about everything that happened across the US and worldwide in the past 100 years.

While this isn't a complete list of all of the major events that occurred in the last 100 years, here are 33 insane occurrences that happened in the lifetimes of these three amazing friends.

World War I

World War I lasted from 1914-1918, claiming the lives of approximately 8.5 million soldiers from all over the world.


Alcohol was illegal in the United States from 1920-1933 (but that didn't stop people from drinking it).

Women's suffrage

Women were not granted the right to vote in the US until 1920.


America's first TV station went on the air in 1928.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression, the worst economic calamity in US history, lasted from 1929-1939.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

The US was launched into World War II after its naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941.

World War II

World War II lasted from 1939-1945, and claimed the lives of approximately 70 million people.

The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the mass murder of approximately six million Jews (in addition to other groups, such as the Roma and homosexuals) by the Nazi regime during WWII.

Atomic bombs

The US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan (one in Hiroshima and one in Nagasaki) in August 1945. This remains the only nuclear attack in history.

Cold War

The Cold War, a social, political and technological conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, began after World War II and lasted until 1991.

Korean War

The Korean War lasted from 1950-1953. It marked the first time US troops went into battle since the end of WWII.


In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, into space. This was the beginning of the Space Age.

Assassination of JFK

The nation was left shocked after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It was a product of the brave efforts of those involved in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War lasted from 1954-1975, with active US combat units introduced in 1965. Millions of Vietnamese died and approximately 58,000 members of the US armed forces were killed or went missing.

Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most revered figures in US history, was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy, brother to President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated on June 6, 1968 while he was running for president.

Landing on the moon

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. It was the first moon landing in history, and a massive achievement for humankind.

Watergate scandal

Watergate was a massive political scandal in the 1970s that led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon in August 1974.

Iran hostage crisis

In 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Iran and took more than 60 Americans as hostages. The Americans would remain hostages for another 444 days, and this event would set the tone for a contentious relationship between the US and Iran that continues to this day.

President Ronald Reagan assassination attempt

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington DC just 69 days into his presidency. He survived the shooting.

Mobile phones

The first truly portable phone was introduced in 1989 by Motorola.

Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, marking a major turning point in the Cold War.

The Persian Gulf War

The Persian Gulf War lasted from 1990-1991. The US and its allies defeated Iraq (led by Saddam Hussein) after it invaded Kuwait.

Collapse of Soviet Union

The Soviet Union collapsed on December 25, 1991, effectively concluding the Cold War.


The World Wide Web was introduced in 1991, changing everything about how humans communicate and retrieve information.

The impeachment of President Bill Clinton

In 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the US House of Representatives. He was ultimately acquitted by the US Senate. Clinton is one of two presidents in history to be impeached.


On September 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and Washington DC claimed over 3,000 lives in the US, and launched America into the War on Terror. Four planes were hijacked, two hit the World Trade Center in NYC, one hit the Pentagon and another crashed in Pennsylvania.


The first iPod was introduced in October 2001, revolutionizing the way people listen to music.

War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan, a response to the 9/11 attacks, began in 2001 and lasted until 2014, making it the longest war in US history.

Iraq War

The Iraq War began in 2003 and lasted until 2011. It was a controversial conflict with continued consequences.

First black president

Barack Obama was elected the first black president in US history on November 4, 2008.

First female presidential nominee for a major party

Hillary Clinton became the first female in US history to clinch the presidential nomination for a major party in June 2016.

Ruth Chatman Hammett, Gladys Ware Butler and Bernice Grimes Underwood, friends for nearly a century, said they plan on voting for Clinton. If she ultimately wins, it would mean three women who were born before women could vote helped elect the first female president in American history. The three friends also voted for Barack Obama.

It's amazing what you can do and see in a lifetime.

Citations: Three friends celebrate their 100th birthdays together, while remembering a fourth (The Washington Post), WWI Casualty and Death Tables (PBS), July 2, 1928: America's First TV Station Goes on the Air (Wired), Jaw-Dropping Visualization Will Give You New Respect For The Sheer Number Who Died In WWII (Huffington Post), DOCUMENTING NUMBERS OF VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST AND NAZI PERSECUTION (US Holocaust Memorial Museum), Korean War Fast Facts (CNN), Sputnik and The Dawn of the Space Age (NASA), Teaching With Documents: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (National Archives and Records Administration), CIVIL RIGHTS ACT (History), Vietnam War (Encyclopedia Brittanica), July 20, 1969: One Giant Leap For Mankind (NASA), Watergate scandal (Encyclopedia Brittanica), IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS (History), March 30, 1981: President Ronald Reagan shot by John Hinckley (CBS News), The History of the Mobile Phone (The Washington Post), BERLIN WALL (History), Persian Gulf War (Encyclopedia Brittanica), FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION (History), THE INVENTION OF THE INTERNET (History), President Clinton impeached (History), 9/11 ATTACKS (History), 2001 - first iPod launched - Apple iPod: a history in pictures (The Telegraph), Afghanistan War (Encyclopedia Brittanica)